Dear Lee,

The weather is warming and there are more sunny days than cloudy ones. That means: time for spring cleaning.

As a collector, I always worry when I see people downsizing and doing big spring cleanings. Without caution and research, they could be getting rid of valuable collectibles and heirlooms. They may donate an old coat without checking the pockets or give away a closet full of purses and miss that old jewelry or other valuables left inside. I have a friend who threw one old, crumpled Kleenex away in the trash and then weeks later remembered she had put an engagement ring in the Kleenex to take to the jeweler to be made smaller.

Here are some spring cleaning tips to help you maximize value of your no-longer-needed items and help keep the rest organized:

1. Before donating or throwing anything away, check its value. Everything from broken toys to old newspapers can be sold.
2. Take pictures of items you plan to sell. If you are using your phone, make sure you save the pictures in the cloud or transfer them to a flash drive. If you are able, start a list that includes each pictured item, size, color, marks, condition, price paid, history and the date. Some new phones allow you to add captions to photos so you may not need to keep a list.
3. Don’t throw away labels, stickers, auction catalogs or original boxes. They add to the value, especially if you are talking about old toys, paper bills or history.
4. Set aside a pile for family and friends to look over. You never know what people want, whether it’s an old music box, illustrated sheet music or a Hummel figurine. Put a note (“save for family”) on small pieces of paper and put the paper in or on the object. If the object has history, include that with the item.
5. Keep a separate trash pile. Look over the pile once or twice or bring a family member to go over it with you. Better safe than sorry!
6. Do you have a drawer or bag full of old cords or plugs or unidentified parts? Before throwing them out, check every one of your devices, computers, phones, iPads and notebooks to see if anything matches.
7. If you find any larger decorative items or old ceramics, think of your garden. A beautiful garden provides the unexpected, both in the flowers and plants, as well as items placed around the landscape. I have many “trash” pieces in my garden, including old street signs, metalwork, large planters and a fountain. Oh, and iron gnomes, of course.
8. Remember: Keep family photos or other historical records that might be wanted by future generations. Set those aside and put in a waterproof, mouse-proof container.

Once all the work is done, you will be able to enjoy your newly cleaned house without the worry that you threw something out you should have kept or donated.

Happy Spring! 

P.S. Did you know used coffee grounds are good to use in the garden? Add them to your garden soil to increase nutrients and help repel pests.

vintage family photographs


Leave a Reply

Featured Articles